A North American Call to Discipleship
"The Rev. Elizabeth Eaton, presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), commends to this church the Arusha Call to Discipleship from the World Council of Churches.
In this invitation, Eaton unites with the Most Rev. Michael B. Curry, presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church; the Most Rev. Fred Hiltz, primate, Anglican Church of Canada; and the Rev. Susan C. Johnson, national bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada.
The common invitation joins the seasonal devotions from this four-way relationship as resources for the churches.
In their joint message, the church leaders state: 'This Call helpfully comes to us at a decisive moment, as our four churches commit anew to engage together the challenges and opportunities of faithful mission on our fast-changing contexts. We are mindful especially of seeking racial justice, of honouring the Quad-Centennial (1619-2019) of the forced trans-Atlantic transportation of enslaved African persons to this continent; of challenging theologies which have endorsed dispossession of Indigenous Peoples; and of strengthening our support for the displaced and dispossessed seeking new beginnings in our midst...'
"We lift up these features of the Call, which gives voice to many of the same convictions increasingly emphasized in our four churches:
1. It identifies deepening the discipleship of Christians as the primary missional and evangelical concern, knowing that the Gospel truly lived is the best form of witness to it.
2. It defines mission in a manner that seeks to move away from colonialist perspectives, understanding that it is not the work of the Church directed 'to the margins' but God's work originating 'from the margins.'
3. It insists that all mission and evangelism must be integrated and holistic, not endorsing any false dichotomy between a spiritual salvation and the transformation of social, economic, racial, environmental, and gender injustices.
4. It understands that as the Church is called into 'active collaboration' in God's mission, this responsibility rests not only with those who serve in offices of leadership in the Church; it relies on a renewal of the vocations and ministry of all the baptized."
If we see another church merger in the next few decades, I think the merger will involve some or all of these four churches. The four points listed above differ from the priorities I remember when I was ordained. Perhaps First Lutheran Church should discuss these four points because they are central to what we are now doing as a church.